June 28, 2005

Doctor's in the Hiz-House

WARNING: Possible spoilers, so if I ruin something, don't blame me - you have been warned. Also, I have not seen the final episode, so I am operating from a distinct disadvantage.
You Brits are lucky - that's right, I'm talking about you, Psychbloke, and the rest of your countrymen. After watching the first twelve new Doctor Who episodes (thanks to my pal Brian, whom I've thanked publicly), I am glad to say that it was definitely worth the wait. Twelve episodes of varying quality, but it makes me kick myself for not having high speed internet.

(And before you call the Illegal Downloading Police - if Warner Brothers Video (who distributes BBC Videos here in the US) did either a total series one boxed set or a series of three episode sets like they do in the UK, I would buy them. I'd sell organs to get my hands on them. Yes, they're that good. Good enough that the Sci-Fi Channel should be kicking themselves for missing out on distributing Who.)

First, kudos have to go to Christopher Eccleston, who could have easily become the George Lazenby of Doctor Who. However, thanks to some clever writing (which hinted at past continuity in a clever way, and didn't turn into fanboy continuity porn), Eccleston gave us a Doctor that we hadn't seen in awhile, and whose embrace of non-Edwardian clothing gave us a Doctor for the 21st Century. (Although I had disagreed with the decision, I now feel it was smart not to hire Paul McGann - in many ways, he would have made the show too retro). Some had described him as the "ADHD Doctor" or the "Depressed Doctor" - if anything (and I welcome Polite Dissent's rebuttal", Eccleston gives us the "PTSD Doctor" - a man who had seen enough to make himself bitter and cynical, but who still had that spark of life.

This time 'round, we also saw a revolving door of companions, but also got glimpses into the "behind the scenes" of the Doctor's travels. Rose (aka Billie Piper) combined the gusto of Ace with the curiosity and naivete of earlier companions. (Plus, she was relatively easy on the eyes - let's face it). She didn't exactly hover behind the Doctor, and let's face it - anyone who could show compassion to a Dalek deserves kudos. Plus, we got a prat companion (Adam) who only lasted two episodes, and Captain Jack Harriman (who may be coming back in series three), a James Bond-esque character with a sly sense of humor, and enough charisma (to paraphrase a quote from another British science-fiction show) to make men wet.

The writing on this series was relatively straightforward, a far cry from Who back in 1989. (Having watched Ghost Light on DVD, I was not impressed with the fact that 1) the story was somewhat cluttered and 2) both the script editor and writer seemed to take an attitude of "what-clever-boys-we-are"...and I like Ghost Light.) There is one note I would like to make to producer Russell T. Davies: you might want to consider being more of a producer than a writer. Yes, you brought back the Autons with class, and gave us some great moments with Rose's family/mates...but farting aliens? 21st reality television shows 200,000 years from now? Doesn't quite jell...but other writers did. "The Unquiet Dead" - a twist I honestly didn't see coming. "Dalek" - flat-out fanboy joy. "Father's Day" - a treatise on the dangers of tampering with history. "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances" - could easily be spoken in the same breath as Genesis of the Daleks, Tomb of the Cybermen, Spearhead from Space, Talons of Weng Chiang, Caves of Androzani, and Vengeance on Varos

Plus, this series had some great moments that were fannish without being too annoying - the Mickey Auton. Hints about the "Time War". Seeing a Dalek naked. The beginning of "Aliens of London". "Today, everybody lives!" The Doctor's description of the Dalek's creator. "No, you don't." So many great moments, without the obsessiveness that may have been prevalent in the past. Too many to count, but all in all - the way a franchise should be handled.

Yes, you Brits are lucky...new Who, and Blake's 7 on DVD. (No American distributor...yet). Maybe a transcontinental move is in order.....

No comments: